A horse was found dead behind the Pines Road Circle K in Shreveport Thursday Morning, June 7, 2018.

An anonymous tip came in to the KEEL Newsroom Thursday morning with an accompanying picture of the deceased animal. Being a well known horse lover and owner, Erin McCarty brought the tip to my attention after her show. She was torn whether or not to share the story on our station websites knowing that many would be disturbed by the image of a dead horse. Here's the problem. It was presumed the horse was dumped, already dead, behind the Circle K. However, as I inspected the picture, I noticed some things that would indicate that the horse had arrived to the site alive. First, there was a pile of manure a few steps away from the horse. Second, there was hay. No one brings hay to feed a dead horse. Because the location was right around the corner from our studios, we decided to go check it out.

When we arrived, Shreveport Police were on the scene, as well as Caddo Parish Animal Services and Waste Management. We were able to talk to officials on site and they were just as perplexed about the circumstances as we were. At that time, they were gathering photographic evidence before removing the body and requesting camera footage from the store.

While I was there, I observed that the horse seemed to be quite young, malnourished, had several bumps and abrasions, but nothing that would be indicative of a life threatening injury. Keep in mind, I don't have a vet degree, just enough knowledge to know when I need to call one! I took pictures and planned to show them to one of my veterinarian friends later in the day. In the end, all I could personally come up with is that someone who was down on their luck, knew their horse was bad off, so they left them in a high traffic area, hoping someone would find him and get him the help he needed before it was too late.

Later, I called a veterinarian friend and asked if I could send the pictures I took that morning and it turned out that they had been called out that very morning to treat the horse in question. Everything we had surmised about the situation was wrong. The horse was a 'rescue' from the Thompson Kill Pen in Pitkin, LA that was on his way to a new home in Norman, OK. Sounds great, right? So, how did the horse end up dead in the back of a Circle K...

Have you ever heard of a kill pen? It's kind of a like a small pet rescue, but if they aren't 'saved' in a certain amount of time, they're shipped to Mexico for slaughter. Generally, if they come in with injuries, etc... they aren't treated because you wouldn't want to taint the meat, right? Plus, that would hurt the bottom line. However, I've been guilty of supporting kill pens in the past, after all, my mother and I have 'saved' two, one with horrible results and one that is flourishing under our care... However, this situation gets a little twisted.

This horse was one of many under a 'Mexican' deadline. He and two others were saved and loaded onto a trailer destined for Oklahoma. According to my veterinarian friend who wishes not to be named, the woman hauling stopped multiple times to give them water to keep them hydrated between Pitkin and Shreveport. But by Shreveport, the horse in question, couldn't stand. The woman was getting kicked by the other two in the trailer while trying to assist the one in distress and I still don't know how she was able to get him off the trailer. By the time he was off the trailer, he was down and he wasn't getting back up. Gary Bailey with Caddo Sheriff's Stock Patrol contacted the local veterinarian I've been in communication with, who was then called to the scene. The ONLY humane thing to do was to euthanize the horse. It's my understanding that Mr. Bailey notified the Caddo Parish Sheriff's Office to arrange removal of the body around 12:30am. You truly can't fault the woman hauling the horses... She couldn't exactly hang around with the two other horses, mostly likely in poor condition, in a hot trailer for any longer. She really needed to get back on the road and get the airflow going through her trailer again. Those horses had mostly likely already been through hell... I can't imagine how much more they could take. Unfortunately, due to the late hour, SPD and CPAS didn't get the memo before folks found the body at first light.

Here's the problem. To transport a horse out of state, you have to have a valid health certificate issued by a veterinarian. This horse clearly wasn't healthy and upon further examination, the certificate wasn't valid because it listed the destination as New York, not Oklahoma. Erin McCarty from the KEEL news team is going to be exploring this in depth in the coming days.

While horse meat cannot be legally sold as food in the United States, it can be sold in Europe, Asia and South America. Horse slaughter was outlawed in the US over a decade ago, which has made the plight for horses, in my humble opinion, even worse because they are forced to endure horrible conditions and inhumane euthanization practices in Canada and Mexico. Government statistics estimate some 100,000 horses are shipped yearly out of the US for slaughter.

Horse lovers are divided on whether or not we should allow humane slaughter to return to the United States. Some turn a blind eye. Me, I do what I can and patiently wait for Publisher's Clearing House to bring my check so I can set up a true horse rescue, with no 'Mexican' deadlines.